Gig Economy Project – Just Eat signs “pioneer” labour agreement with Spanish unions

Agreement is the first of its kind in Spain, and includes 30 days of holiday leave, a maximum working day and health & safety protections, but does not extend to Just Eat’s sub-contractors

Press conference announcing the Just Eat Labour agreement (Picture: FeSMC-UGT)

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THE first collective bargaining agreement in the app-based food delivery sector in Spain, and one of the first in Europe, was finally signed today [17 December] between Just Eat, Europe’s biggest food delivery firm, and the two big Spanish unions, CCOO and UGT. 

The unions said negotiations had been ongoing for a year and a half, but they were stepped up following the Spanish Government’s “Riders’ Law” which entered into force in August, a law that that legally presumes food delivery couriers to be employees. That Law was vociferously opposed by Glovo and Just Eat, the two biggest food delivery companies in Spain, but Just Eat – a Dutch firm that began hiring its riders as employees last year – backed the government.

The Gig Economy Project has read a copy of the agreement, which comes into force in January, and key headlines include: 

  • A standard salary for a full-time rider of €15,200 per year
  • An hourly rate of €8.50 (the Spanish minimum wage is €7.55) and a night-time allowance of 25% above the basic salary
  • 30 days of vacation, of which 15 must be taken between July and August
  • 80% of contracts must be permanent
  • A maximum working day of nine hours
  • The provision of material resources for workers, including a mobile phone and rucksack, and a reimbursement allowance for employees using their own vehicle
  • Just Eat takes out a Collective Accident Insurance policy for its riders
  • Information and training for riders in prevention of occupational risks, an annual medical examination and personal protective equipment
  • The right of information for workers and representatives about the company algorithm in relation to working conditions, which was established in the “Rider’s Law”, as well as the right to digitally disconnect, the right to privacy from the use of digital surveillance
  • The right to union organising and for workers and their representatives to meet in assemblies

However, a significant limitation of the agreement is that it only extends to riders directly hired by Just Eat, not to the company’s sub-contractors as well. Just Eat operates a mixed-model in Spain, hiring some of its riders directly and some through sub-contractors, which are notorious for poor working conditions. 

JustEat has previously said it wants to eventually hire all its riders directly, but asked at the press conference to announce the agreement how much of its workforce is employed directly in Spain, Patrik Bergareche, CEO of Just Eat in Spain, would only say that it was in the “thousands”, and would not say how many are hired via sub-contractors. The company claims to work with 20,000 restaurants in Spain and have 2.5 million users.

‘El Periodico’ reports that the Spanish Government’s Labour Inspectorate was pursuing a case against Just Eat of illegal transfer of workers to sub-contractors, but that will now be dropped after the agreement signed on Friday.

Chema Martínez, General Secretary of CCOO Services, said the agreement technically does not reach the status of a statutory agreement because it would have had to have been discussed and voted on by members, but the aim is for the unions to now establish a strong membership presence within the company so that it can become statutory.

Martínez added that they want this to be an agreement which extends to the whole food delivery sector, but apart from conversations with ‘Rocket’, another Dutch super-fast delivery firm, and Stuart Delivery, the other players in the sector have not budged.

“We have had conversations that have not culminated successfully,” he explained. “There is still a lot of resistance to the issue of employment in the rider sector”.

Nonetheless, Martínez described the agreement as “a benchmark at the national level and one of the first in Europe.” 

He added: “In the case of Spain, it is the first agreement that is framed within the recently approved Riders Law, therefore, it becomes the reference text in our country to organise the activity of workers on digital delivery platforms. This agreement goes to show that the search for profitability is compatible with respect for the labour rights of workers.” 

Álvaro Vicioso, Secretary for Trade Union Action and Communication of FeSMC-UGT, the services section of the union, said: “For UGT this is only the beginning, and it is a good beginning, to make this sector of activity an area for the interests of everyone. We have managed to eradicate the precariousness that existed, both in terms of conditions and wages, and define the foundations of an architecture of rights and duties on which it will be necessary to continue building. 

“At UGT we believe in companies that want to do things well and, in this sense, they will always count on our dialogue and good faith.”

Bergareche said that Just Eat “has always bet on the labour force of the delivery person as our legal system indicates.” 

He added: “A high level of affiliation with the distributors is also one of the keys to guaranteeing excellence in the performance of our activity. This agreement reinforces this commitment and goes one step further. As leaders of the sector, we aspire that this collective agreement is the precedent of a future sectorial agreement “

The agreement comes just over one week after the European Commission’s platform work directive was announced, which is set to to provide a presumption of employment for all platform workers, including food delivery couriers, across the European Union when it is officially passed and translated into national law, either in 2024 or 2025.

Commenting on the Just Eat agreement, Ludovic Voet of the European Trade Union Confederation tweeted: “Pioneer agreement sets a path for fair working conditions in delivery platforms. Enhorabuena camaradas. Just after the publication of the Platform Work Directive, it comes at the right moment.”

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